Archive for the ‘Daughters’ Category

Body Image and Our Daughters

Monday, September 8th, 2014

A new Human Barbie has been crowned. I’m not kidding.

I never knew this category existed, but apparently the newly crowned Barbie is the second Human Barbie.  Sheesh.

 

Meet the newest Human Barbie; she’s a 16-year-old from Ukraine:

 

Human Barbie

eOnline

 

This picture disturbed me on multiple levels.

First, I had to look at this photo several times to determine if she was real or not. (She is.)

Second, her measurements. You can read about those here. Apparently, she hasn’t had surgery or photoshop to help out with those pesky problem spots. She inherited this body (minus the colored contacts) and she’s proud of it:

“If I can become famous for my appearance in some other way, I will be extremely happy,” she told the Daily Mail. “I think I’ve achieved this image better than anyone else. I’m the ultimate vamp woman.”

(By the way, what’s a vamp woman?)

Third, this information is apparently newsworthy in our culture.

All this got me thinking about body image and appearance and especially about our daughters.

 

daughter, golden-hour, light, dusk

 

 

How do we talk to our daughters, in this self-obsessed culture, about their bodies?

How do we alleviate  anxiety about their appearance when the Human Barbie makes international news?

This is what I’ve come up with (so far):

I think it starts with how we treat our own bodies and how we talk about them in front of our daughters.

How would you answer the following questions?

1. What are you saying about yourself in front of your daughter?

  -Are you (still) vocally obsessing about those extra pounds you gained at Christmas?

  -Do you talk negatively about yourself because of your appearance?

2. What are you saying to other women around your daughter?

  -Are you rating yourself and/or other women based on weight?

  -How often is the first thing you say to someone else: “You look so cute, great, skinny, etc.”

3.  Does the need to exercise control your schedule?

– Are your relationships/home life suffering because you’re exercising obsessively?

4. What kinds of activities are you pursuing with your daughter?

– Do you choose activities that engage your/her whole person, not just the ones  that cater to you/her appearance (shopping, manicures, makeovers, etc)?

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Ok, I know what you’re thinking–Wow, who just showed up and ruined the party?

But, just hang with me for a second.

My point is that our daughters SEE. They observe how we spend our time and take note of what’s important to us. They HEAR how we talk about ourselves and others. They UNDERSTAND what we value based on our choices.

Ann Voskamp uses a stunning, two word phrase in her book One Thousand Gifts: All eye. It’s a reminder to be on the lookout  for God’s story in our lives and others’ lives, and to be thankful for His gifts. All eye.

Our daughters are all eye, too. They see and absorb the things that we do, the way that we treat people, the way we relate to our “selves” .

I don’t say this from on high; I struggle with these things, too. Isn’t it sad to think that since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be thinner?  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish it was so. I suspect it might be the same for you, too.

But I have a choice whether this THING–this aspiration that our culture hands down to us that drives girls and women to NOT eat, binge exercise, or vomit– will control the choices I make for myself and my daughter. (For some, I realize it doesn’t feel like a choice, that it’s taking over your life and you want it to stop, but you can’t. Please tell someone you trust TODAY.)

I strive to pass down to my daughter the value of  things in moderation–to really enjoy good things like food and exercise, but not to the point of worshipping them or letting them control her. That’s a problem for all of us as humans, not just women. We elevate the good things around us to a place of ultimate satisfaction, a place that they were never meant to hold. They cannot ultimately satisfy the deepest longings, but we want them to so badly that we  easily spin into a cycle of addiction.

So, what does it look like to enjoy good things in moderation with our  daughters? Well, I’m a work in progress, but here’s what it looks like in my house.

1.Abby and I enjoy going shopping together occasionally. But, we also bake together, go to coffee shops, and sometimes read together.

2. I  like to exercise, and I carve out time when I can. It clears my mind and the endorphins are pretty nice, too. But sometimes, I have to say no to the inner drive for MORE, MORE, MORE, because…well, I have a family to take care of.

3.  I made a pact with a friend recently to just STOP commenting on other women’s appearances so much, even when it’s complimentary. (It’s harder than I thought.)

Disclaimer: I think  there’s something really breathtaking about a beautiful woman. And that’s okay. God created ALL women beautifully. But again, we have a tendency to take the good things that God gives us and elevate them to a dangerous place. Furthermore, have you ever stopped to think about what our compliments to the extraordinarily beautiful and thin women do to the women who aren’t? 

4. The person in #1 still obsessing about those extra Christmas pounds in September?  Yep, me. But I don’t share that with my daughter. Every now and then, I talk about it with my husband (his favorite conversation!), but mostly I mull it over in my own mind, constantly reminding myself that the value of my life  is not found in my dress size. Or being crowned the next Human Barbie.

daughter, sun-flare

Isn’t she lovely?

So, what do you think? What are some ways you tackle body image with the girls in your house? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Know Your Kids

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

parenting

 

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” -Debra Ginsberg

 

kids, parenting, children

 

My son Stephen and I went for an evening walk last night. At first, I envisioned a leisurely walk by myself with only my camera for company–the glow of the evening summer sky  is perfect for taking pictures.

 

But, when me and my camera were only halfway down the driveway, Stephen yelled from the screen door, “Mom, can I come with you?”

 

“Sure, Stephen. C’mon. “

 

“Put your shoes on first.”

 

“No, you can’t ride your scooter. We’re taking a W A L K.”

 

roses, natural light, sun flare

 

So, my eight-year-old walking companion, my camera and I set out at a slow pace, holding tightly to the solid white line of the country road. Few cars travel down this street, but when they come, it’s fast and furious. I walked on the outside with Stephen in the grass,  just like my dad used to do with me. He would take me for long walks but never let me walk on the outside.

 

country, road, wildflowers, dandelions

 

We stopped along the way to capture wildflowers and tall grass, especially where the light hit them just right. Stephen patiently endured all my stopping for photos, while I listened to his ongoing monologue about what animals he would buy if he had a million dollars (a parrot, a monkey, and a bald eagle, by the way). I encouraged him to maybe look into being a zookeeper.

{Tangent: We have a long standing agreement in our house that we are not going to own pets. The last thing I want to spend my spare time doing is vacuuming dog hair. Cleaning up after 4 kids is enough. But, how can I not get this kid a pet??? He talks about animals 24-7!}

 

Daisies Unhinged

 

Stephen is a wonderfully zany kid. For example, he’s been wearing the same 7 rubber bracelets–the ones with the different slogans on them like “Follow your Dreams” and “Jesus for Japan” (just to name a few) — on his right arm for two years straight. He never takes them off; he wears them with pride. He lost one swimming once and responded with heartbreak: “That was my favorite one. It said Never Give Up.”  Me: <Gulp. Heart in throat.>

 

slogan bracelets

 

 

 

Last night, he wanted me to photograph his superhero poses (he was wearing his Spiderman pajama shirt after all)  and he especially wanted me to capture him in midair, like Superman.

 

I did. We giggled. For a brief moment, when he saw the picture, I think he thought he could really fly. His chest swelled, his eyes beamed–just like they do when someone asks him about his bracelets.

 

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superman

Yesssss!

 

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The thing about last night is that Stephen and I were getting to know each other, not just as a mom and a son, but as people. This little boy is  wonderfully made in the image of God, with all sorts of dreams and interests and aspirations. I want to know about them.

This wasn’t a time of correction or discussing his “issues”. There’s a time for that. It was a time for being interested, to listen, to engage.

Soon his identity will transcend being our son, and really  does already. He belongs to Jesus.

And one day, he’ll go and be a zookeeper and have his own friends and be a neighbor, parent, husband to someone else. He’ll become the person God created him to be and I’ve got a front row seat (for now).

So, for my final Parenting in Weakness post, I encourage you to know your children as the people God has created them to be. Guide them, discipline them, and make them do chores. Those are good things. But make sure you KNOW them, too.

Take time to listen to their longings.

Know their particular gifts  and encourage them to use them.

Don’t just chide them in their weakness, help them; because you know that you are weak, too.

Give your children enough space to let God speak to their hearts rather than your endless lecturing (so, so, so hard).

Finally, chill out. You’re not the Writer of the Story, you’re  a supporting actor at best. You have an important job for sure, but ultimately, the Author is up to things you can’t control, see, or even imagine.  That’s hard because it doesn’t feel safe when we’re not in control.

But we cling to the promise that He is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Rest in that truth.

 

light, arrow, road sign

 

And Babies Don't Keep

the things we do for L O V E

Monday, April 7th, 2014

The Things We Do For Love

Two days ago, we woke up at 4:30am, stumbled bleary-eyed into the shower, then crammed all 4 sleep-walking kids into the minivan for a 12-hour drive to an award ceremony for our daughter. If you follow the blog at all, you know that Abby won 2nd place in her age bracket in the Carl Sandburg student poetry contest. Shortly after we found out that she won, we also found out that the reception would take place while we were away for spring break. Erg.

Duane and I were really disappointed, but immediately thought that we just couldn’t do it. We’d had the trip planned for many months. I couldn’t get it off my mind, though. I asked the teacher what the reception would be like. She told me via email that there would be a published poet there to speak to the kids, each winner would receive a journal, and they would have the opportunity to read the poems out loud. While I was reading her email, Duane happened to run into the teacher at the kids’ school and she told him the same thing. He came home, we looked each other in the eye, and agreed: she needs to go.

There were many things we needed to forfeit to make it happen: a leisurely cup of coffee before we hit the road (who am I kidding? We have 4 kids. Leisurely is NOT part of our vocabulary), a hot breakfast, SLEEP, and 4 kids slumbering peacefully well beyond the crack of dawn. Is there anything worse than waking sleeping children?

So, there we were… on the highway… in the dark… at 530am…with 4 kids. Now many of you have done this kind of thing before. You travel through the night so you miss the traffic (you’re crazy) or you wake up super early to get a head start (you’re also crazy). We don’t. We like to sleep. We pack the car in the morning when the sun is in the sky, NOT the moon. We like our “leisurely” cup of coffee.

So, why did we move mountains (intentional hyperbole) to get her there? We knew that this ceremony would be an invaluable experience for her. It would affirm her gifts as a writer, give her a chance to speak in front of others–a valuable skill, and most importantly, it would be an opportunity to celebrate with her and the other winners.
The things we do for love.

……………………………………….

She took her place at the podium, barely reaching the microphone. She self-consciously tucked her hair behind her ears and began to read. As I watched, I wondered what God was up to. Would this event be a significant marker in her life when she retells the story that God is writing for her one day? I didn’t cry; I wanted to, but I knew she’d be embarrassed. The things we do for love.

I smiled a lot and took lots of pictures, then smiled some more. Her teacher came and cheered her on. Good friends came to celebrate, too, and even brought us dinner so we didn’t have to stop on our manic 12-hour mission to get there on time.

As we sat at the picnic benches eating dinner with our friends before the ceremony, Abby emphatically stated that her mom did NOT help her with the poem. And she’s right. It was a project between her and her (wonderful) teacher. I was tempted to defend myself– all the years of reading Goodnight Moon and Three by the Sea at bedtime, countless hours of listening to books on CD, her learning to read on my lap while I taught Aidan to read. But instead, I remained silent. It’s her time.

And I can relate, because I’m a child myself. We never really know all that our parents have done for us.

So I just smiled and agreed.

The things we do for LOVE.

*Read Abby’s poem here.

Abby Poetry

Photo Feature Wednesday: the Carl Sandburg House

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Photo Feature graphic, PicMonkey

Last weekend, our family and Duane’s parents went to Flat Rock, NC to visit the Carl Sandburg house. Abby’s teacher entered a poem that she wrote into the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest. I am THRILLED to report that she won second place for her poem, Day Shadows to Night Brightness. Abby has always loved to write and as she gets older, it’s obvious that she has a unique way with words. Here’s the poem she wrote; I’m biased, but I think it’s really beautiful.

By: Abby Davis February 24, 2014

Day Shadows to Night Brightness

When I touch my downy blonde hair, I know I am awake.
My yawn feels as if it reaches the edges of the Earth.
The early mornings somber darkness obscures the morning birds angelic song.
My sleepy eyes want to close.
My mind races back throughout yesterday and I push my achy body off of my SUDDENLY springy bed.
I feel strong, even though the loudest quiet is going on in the world around me.
Today’s first sun rays gleam through my window and I am ready.
I thrust myself forward for whatever challenges come my way.
Good morning light.
Movement

Lanky with wavy brown curls that roll down her bony back
Her tan skin is coated with piles of tears carrying sad memories, showering like waterfalls.
Shy. Words locked in her head, heard by no one but her own soul.
Our words were blocked out by the pain she felt underneath the radiant yellow monkey bars.
Dark shadows in her life were ones we hadn’t experienced.
The second came when she overheard the laughter of friendly conversation.
A smile hung on the corners of her mouth, visible but far from full.
Beneath the luminous yellow monkey bars all of our worlds became brighter.
She smiled and said, “Hi.”
Movement

Malicious customers, counting dollars, loud bawls from annoying little babies
She shouts. She is done, she says, done and storms off.
The corner she finds herself in is filled with dust and cobwebs.
That is what she feels in her heart; dusty, dusty cobwebs.
One chocolate cupcake, beautiful orange frosting, scattered sprinkles
“Happy Birthday,” he says.
She laughs. She laughs like there is nothing in the world that can stop her.
Tears explode that have been bundled up behind her eyes.
Not sad, happy, extremely happy.
She screams of joy and lifts him off of his feet, eating it lightheartedly.
Movement

I bounce back on my springy bed, downy blonde hair sprawling across my pillow.
After all I have seen today, my eyelids flutter to the tune of a heavenly bird song and close peacefully.
The memories drift into my head painting a smile, an image of things I have learned.
There is strength in each part of each day, every situation filled with emotion.
The day’s events each made me feel heartbroken while its happy moments mended the broken pieces.
You can’t have happy without sad because light pours out of darkness.
Dark shadows give way to bright smiles; dusty cobwebs are swept away with life’s beautiful frosting.
Somehow, somber darkness always releases an angelic heavenly song.
The darkness of the night sky will be illuminated by the light that shines in the morning.
Giving all things a chance to reflect, to experience, to start over…dark to light
Goodnight.
Constant movement

 

We Become Our Mothers

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

It happens when you least expect it.

We become our mothers. This truth hit me hard during a recent conversation I had with my 3 oldest children. It went something like this:

Me: If I ever find out that you used that kind of language with your friends at school or your friends at church, you will wish you were never born.

Them: [speechless, deer-in-the-headlights eyes]

Me: Do you understand?

Them: [shaky voices] Yes, ma’am.

I walked away with a rare feeling of success.

I also had an out-of-body experience. Did I just say that?

Often, I still feel like I’m that 18-year-old girl who just graduated from high school. Or the 7-year-old who just finished her first dance recital. But, in reality, I have crow’s feet around my eyes and I’m saying things to my kids like: “Oh, moms have a special talent for finding things out.” Or this little gem: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Really? Has it come down to that? Ugh. Listen, I take time to deal with the deeper issues in my children’s hearts, but sometimes  glib phrases are the best thing my little brain can handle when I’m cooking dinner, feeding the baby, and managing conflict for the umpteenth time.

Something else happens, too, during these brief out-of-body experiences when I realize I’m just like my mother. I see her through the lens of grace. It’s a shame that it took this long. Now that I have my own children, I understand why she didn’t want to answer the tenth question from me or why she fell asleep on the couch at night or why she told me: “Mothers have a special way of finding things out.”

A friend of mine from high school recently posted the same sentiment on Facebook. While her 9-year-old daughter was riding her bike away from the house, she yelled out from her front porch: “Make good choices!” She humorously added that it was now time to put her mom-jeans on. May it NEVER be so, but you can bet those same words will roll off my tongue in the next few days, heck…hours. Just like my mother.

We Become Our Mothers

My mama and me. Isn’t she per-tty? **Who remembers Olan Mills?!

How have you become like your mother? What phrases do you pull out of your back pocket?

Getting It

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

 

I had a bad week last week.  Not an everything-went-wrong kind of week. My dishwasher still works, my car didn’t break down, and at least 2 out of the 3 kids brushed their teeth.  It was a how-much-more-can-I-handle-emotionally kind of week.  In one day, a good friend told me a harrowing story from her past, another friend filed a police report against a boyfriend, and I witnessed the immediate aftermath of a car accident with my children in the car.  These events happened in chronological order; that’s significant because by the time I saw the accident, I was undone.

 

We watched as chaos unfolded at the scene of the accident. People scrambled out of their cars to help the accident victim. She frantically carried her baby across the street, while she screamed for someone else who was still in the car.  I assume it was her other child. That was it. My heart broke. It is too much for anyone to see a mother screaming for her child.  I took the next turn, barely able to see through the tears. I pulled into the driveway and leaned my head onto the steering wheel and cried over all the stories that happened that day.

 

Then, from behind the driver’s seat, my 9-year-old daughter leaned in and asked me if she could pray.  She prayed for the family in the car accident. She prayed because she understood the severity of the situation. She prayed because I could not speak. She got it.

 

Abby went to Jesus for me. She went to Him with me. In that moment, I knew. She’s not just my daughter. She walks this life alongside of me. I got it.

 

Something was different when we got inside. Instead of the incessant questioning that usually starts full force as soon as we open the door, they walked upstairs without a sound. I heard them playing together quietly.  They knew what we had just seen had no words to describe the sadness. They didn’t demand or make any requests. They knew I needed time.  They got it.

onNeutralGround